AAF Members Complete DE&I Certification Program

Congratulations to AAF members on completing the University of South Florida Muma College of Business “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace” seven-week certification program.
David Lempp – Centro | Laura Spaulding – Bozell | Lyn Wineman – KidGlov | Teri Hamburger – AAF Omaha

In February AAF Omaha received notice from the American Advertising Federation’s (AAF) Club Services office in Washington, D.C. that the University of South Florida (USF) was offering a free DE&I certification program. Dawn Reeves, AAF’s VP of Club Services encouraged local AAF chapters across the country to share the program information with our members. The USF certification program drew more than 135,000 registrants from across the country with more than 62,000 (as of June 1, 2021) completing the 14 hours of online modules to earn the USF certificate.

The program consisted of seven two-hour online modules. The discussions focused on emotional intelligence, stereotypes and biases, and recruitment and retention strategies; the final discussion in the series addressed how to make DEI a sustainable part of the business model.

After completing each module, participants were required to pass quizzes. Graduates of the program received digital certificates from USF and a Credly badge to display on their LinkedIn accounts.

As participants worked through each module, they were encouraged to examine all aspects of their hiring practices, review their job descriptions, and look at their recruitment efforts to ensure a more diverse group of applicants.

Earners of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate, offered by USF’s Muma College of Business, have learned the essential practices and tools designed to increase employee diversity and to create a business model that embraces equity and inclusion. The program, created in partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jabil, focused on ways for organizations to create diverse workplaces, address equity issues, and foster inclusivity.

AAF Omaha’s four graduates of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace certificate program are David Lempp, Laura Spaulding, Lyn Wineman, and Teri Hamburger.
There may be others we are not aware of that took the USF course. If you took the certification course, graduated, and want to be recognized by AAF Omaha please let us know.

Last summer’s social injustices showed us we needed to do better for our community. AAF Omaha’s active committees and teams have been working on multiple program and projects throughout the last year supported by the federation’s board of directors. AAF Omaha has addressed DE&I efforts through programming with the ADVance Omaha project along with panel discussion and webinars offered free to members.

Four of the certificate program graduates from Nebraska were asked to share their thoughts and insights form the USF certificate program and their DE&I journeys.

Laura Spaulding the Manager of Corporate Communications at Bozell shared:

“Research shows a huge lack of diversity within the marketing and advertising industry – not just with hiring but also in how much is spent on advertising to diverse audiences. And while this is a huge issue, in order to begin making a positive change, it has to start with individual decisions. If I wanted to see advancements in my industry, I knew I needed to start with myself. USF made it easy to choose their DEI in the Workplace program by allowing people to participate for free, from home, and at the time that worked with their personal schedules.

At Bozell, we believe the best ideas come from a diverse collection of people who each offer their own unique perspectives. And we understand that requires fostering an environment where employees are not only comfortable but empowered to share those perspectives. So, taking what I learned, I am organizing a series of internal discussions to examine the various topics shared during the program.”

David Lempp the Senior Account Lead at Centro shared:

“Centro has encouraged and set goals for every employee to explore more DEI learning opportunities in and outside of the company. This was an opportunity to take time to listen to more people’s perspective and lived experiences outside of Centro and my network so I can better understand what is happening in our country. While there is not an end to this journey, I am on a path to better prepare myself to treat every person how they want to be treated. I am thankful for Centro, AAF Omaha, and USF for allowing me to participate in this program.”

Lyn Wineman the President: Chief Strategist at KidGlov shared:

“Prior to 2020 my policy was essentially “do no harm.” I would have to say that eyes were opened, and my spirit awakened by the events of last year.  As with many others, I wanted to do something – to do better and to be better, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like.  I started by listening to podcasts and reading books and being more aware of local events. I investigated several DEI Certificate programs and landed on the University of South Florida program because it was comprehensive and delivered by a reputable organization.

Some of my key takeaways from the program:
• Everyone has unconscious bias. (If you think you don’t, checkout the Ted Talk by Valerie Alexander called How to Outsmart Your Own Unconscious Bias and then we can talk).
• There are a number of standard business practices that many of us were taught that we don’t even think about that are unintentionally discriminating. (Top of the list asking for salary history and relying solely on your personal network for hiring and vendor solicitation.)
• Everyone in the who says, “There are not diverse candidates in my region or my industry,” really needs to examine their hiring practices and job requirements.
• Remember that DEI includes not only racial and cultural differences, but people sexual preferences and disabilities as well.

This was a great program for me, however I know that there are others.  I would strongly suggest this or similar programs for anyone who wants to “do better” but is unsure of the steps to take.

I feel like one of the key things I can do as a leader is to start the conversation and to be comfortable talking about things that I may be uncomfortable with or that are difficult. One example is an editorial that was recently published in the Lincoln Journal Star supporting the Equality Act. As marketers, our key superpower is the ability to use our voices for good.”


“I highly suggest watching the Ted Talk by Valerie Alexander called “How to Outsmart Your Own Unconscious Bias and then we can talk”. During the certification program Valerie Alexander, one of the many program lecturers opened my eyes to unconscious bias.

The DE&I journey means something different to each of us. For me I work with people in an industry that influence so many day-to-day decisions. Marketers know their audience, but they should also remember that diversity extends beyond race alone and including people of all ages, socio-economic classes, and genders. The key to staying competitive lies in providing diversified content for diversified audiences, in a way that represents today’s society.

The certification program reinforced while the most qualified person deserves the job, looking at ways to diversify your team is another step you can take toward being more inclusive in your advertising. The people who make your team more “diverse” are not the people who should be doing all the legwork when it comes to increasing cultural intelligence. It should be a team effort.” – Teri Hamburger, AAF Omaha

Creating a certificate program open to thousands of people took collaboration business and educational landscapes. USF drew on their partnerships with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and Jabil, a Florida-based manufacturing services company, to make this program a reality.

Teams of executives from both companies—including Jeff Vinik, owner of the Vinik Sports Group; Steve Griggs, CEO of the Lightning; and Mark Mondello, CEO of Jabil—worked with USF faculty and administrators to outline the program modules.

Moez Limayem, Dean of the USF Muma College of Business in Tampa announced in early June, “Because of the tremendous success of the program, we are now exploring options either to offer it again or to design a second session for those who earned their certificates. We know that, as business schools, we have an opportunity to support companies as they build and implement sustainable diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. By helping companies accomplish these goals, we can help make the business community stronger. In turn, we help make the world stronger as well.”


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